Tag Archives: children

Snuggle Puppy

Chickens-Cover3cDuring our visit with family this summer, we had a chance to hear one of my nephew’s music CDs. It came with a book entitled Philadelphia Chickens, written and illustrated by Sandra Boynton. The songs in it are so silly and so funny that when we found the book and CD at our library, we just had to check it out. As we were listening to the CD in the car, one of the songs really made an impression on me. The song was “Snuggle Puppy,” and the chorus goes like this: 

Ooo, Snuggle Puppy of mine!

Everything about you is especially fine.

I love what you are.

I love what you do.

Ooo, I love you.

These are sweet words for a children’s song, but they really made me think. My youngest child, Luke, is five years old, and he is extremely snuggly. It’s easy to fit his name into the song and sing it to him, hugging and squeezing him. Yet when I sing the lines “I love what you are, I love what you do,” my three older children come to mind. 

I wonder — do they really know that I love them just because of who they are? That I love the quirky ways they behave sometimes, the funny things they say, their uniqueness, their talents that are just their own? Or do they mostly hear me say what I hear myself say: “Don’t do that.” “Quit that.” “I don’t understand why you act that way.” “What’s the matter with you?”  

Well, to all four of my Snuggle Puppies, I do love what you are, and I do love what you do, and I plan to work harder at letting you know. We all need to hear words like that, and the song “Snuggle Puppy” is a good reminder for me. Now, about the song “Please Can I Keep It”….

Yes, Dad Can!

laundryCN_8203Since I’ve been a stay-at-home mom, most of our household chores have followed the traditional division of labor – I clean the house, fix the meals, and wash the dishes while my husband mows the yard and makes minor repairs around the home. Because he’s busy with work during our school year, most all of the homeschool responsibilities fall on me as well. I bring him in as principal when I need to, but generally, I do all the teaching. 

This past month we’ve had to change all that. I had a project commitment that was due at the end of June, and it was taking all my extra time to finish it up. Fortunately, my husband had some time off – he could take care of the things I couldn’t do. And he did! 

It’s been a good month, with a lot of quality time for Dad and the children. He took them everywhere I would have taken them – to the pool to swim, to the free summer movies, to music lessons, to friends’ homes to play. He listened to them read aloud and made sure the rest of their schoolwork was completed. He also took on one major household chore: the laundry. He washed, dried, and folded the clothes all month, enlisting the kids to help him with the process. He streamlined my system, making it easier and more efficient. 

What my husband learned: it’s fun doing things with the children, and relationships are strengthened when they spend time together. What I learned: Dad can do it!  He can help with school, run errands, and clean the house. He might even come up with better ways of doing things, making the chores easier for me when I take them over again. But now that I know, I might not take them all back. I think I’ll leave the laundry for him. 🙂

Rattlesnake Steak

file000838868154Our camping trip in Tennessee over Memorial Day was a fun time of visiting with family members. It was also the first time I had ever eaten rattlesnake. 

On the last full day of the trip, most of the children and a few of the adults decided to take a short hike to a deeper place in the river known as the Swimming Hole. The hike involved following a path through the woods; a large group of children went on ahead and my brother, his grown son, and two of his son’s friend brought up the rear. It was on this path that my nephew nearly stepped on a rattlesnake. 

Thankfully, all the younger children had already gone by. My nephew and one of his friends went into action and quickly killed the snake. They brought it back to the campsite among the excited shouts of the kids. 

My niece’s husband, a true southern boy from Alabama, knew just what to do. Surrounded by a host of curious children, he skinned and gutted the snake. They saw the two mice it had eaten recently along with its heart and entrails. Quite nauseating to me, but great science for the kids. 

My nephew then sautéed the snake in salad dressing and put it on a grill over the campfire. When it was well-done, he cut it up and passed it around. Now I’m not an adventurous eater at all, but how often do you eat rattlesnake fresh out of the woods? Everyone took a small piece, including me. And you know, it wasn’t bad — sort of a mix between fish and chicken in flavor. Even my peanut-butter and jelly eating five-year-old gave it a try. 

Camping is always an adventure, and this trip was no exception. Next time we eat rattlesnake, though, I’d prefer it to be in a restaurant. I’d rather avoid the snakes on the path.

The Not-So-Grand Canyon

grand-canyon3This week, I’ve been working on a couple of painting projects for my niece and her husband. They’re building a mini putt-putt golf course, and their opening day is set for May 18.

One of the projects I had to do was to paint a mural of the Grand Canyon on two adjoining walls. Not an easy job, but I had a printed photo to use as a reference, so I thought I was ready to go.

The first day we had some errands to run, and we didn’t arrive at the site until about lunch time. After a late start, I worked on one wall of that mural for hours, stopping around 8 p.m. At first it looked like a big blob, said Cassie; as the mountain began to take shape, it looked more like a volcano, Lillie insisted. Despite all of my efforts, I decided she was right. Perhaps this Grand Canyon would only be adequate.

The next morning, before we headed to the putt-putt place, we searched the internet for a better reference picture. We found one, and when I went back to work on the mural, I decided to start on the second wall. In just a little while I had another mountain up – and it looked like a mountain from the canyon. The color scheme was totally different, though, and the two walls didn’t match at all.

It didn’t take long to figure out the first painting had to be re-done – covered over entirely with lighter colors. All eight hours worth of work from the previous day had to go. But some great lessons were learned in the process:

1. Find a decent reference picture before beginning a mural of the Grand Canyon and

 2. When you do a job, do it the very best you can, even if you have to do it over.

 Even if my children don’t learn the first lesson, I want them to learn the second. They saw me work hard on the painting the first day, and then they helped me paint right over it on the second. 

 It’s turning out to be a grand canyon after all.

Go, Family!

golf_ball__5_This weekend, the children and I headed to Alabama to help out my niece and her husband. They’re working on putting together an indoor putt-putt golf course, and they have quite a few projects we can help them with. So, we threw some clothes together, packed up our school books, and headed out.

I’m glad we have the opportunity to work with them, and I’m thankful the kids can be a part of it. I come from a large family, and when someone needs  something, someone else is usually available to help. Whether it’s moving, remodeling a house, or hosting a drama camp, someone will be there.

That’s not to say we don’t have family squabbles. With eight children, thirty grandchildren, and spouses, there are sure to be disagreements, squabbles, and hurt feelings. But we work (or sometimes muddle) through them, and then we’re back to supporting each other as before.

I want my children to grow up with the same mindset. I want them to remain close to each other even after they are grown.  I want them to be willing to lend a hand and help each other if they can. I want them to always know that their family cares about them and the events in their lives.

So, today we’ll be going to the putt-putt course to work on the decorations. They’re using the United States as a theme, and this past weekend they finished building a cave for Carlsbad Caverns. My son John had the opportunity to work on that project, and today he’ll be helping build wooden frames for the Redwood Forest.  Cassie and Lillie will be painting records for Graceland as I work on a mural of the Grand Canyon. We’re looking forward to working hard, making memories, and sowing good seeds for future family relationships.

Literature Class

a-booksAlthough we weren’t involved in a co-op this past year, my children were part of a literature class put together by a couple of homeschool moms. Yesterday was our class for April.

Our literature class meets the fourth Thursday of the month from 10:00 – 11:30 at the centrally-located home of one of the families. Students divide up into four groups: grades K-3rd,4th-5th, 6th-8th, and 9th-12th.

Every month, students in each group are assigned a book to read – one that can be easily found at our local library. Some of the books they’ve read this year include Misty; The Whipping Boy; Shiloh; Sarah Plain and Tall; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe;, The Cricket in Times Square; Carry On, Mr. Bowditch; A Wrinkle in Time; Call It Courage; and The Bronze Bow. Then, when we meet together, students break up into their groups in different rooms of the house to discuss the book they’ve read, with one of the moms leading the discussion.

The K-3rd group is the largest group, so they usually meet in the living room. This younger group reads one or two picture books and then work on a corresponding activity, such as making a craft. This past week they read a story about a dog and made “dog” biscuits that were actually baked treats for the kids. Of course, not all of them were shaped like dog biscuits – the children shaped them into stars, squares, and even a rock.

The class has lent itself to other activities as well. When the middle school class was reading The Hiding Place, a special guest was brought in who was a girl in Holland during the Holocaust. When the older elementary students were reading Tall Tales, they created their own tall tales and shared them with each other.

With only one class to go for this school year, literature class has been a great way to get together while reading good books!

Photo by Faeyran

Daddy’s Night

If you’re like me, you have some extra projects you’d like to get to. Perhaps you like to sew, crochet, scrapbook, or write. And if you’re like me, you have a hard time fitting it into your schedule as a homeschooler.

I like to think that I can spend a couple of hours every night after the children are in bed working on projects. This sounds like a lot of time and a good plan, but it rarely works out. Evening activities such scouts or church mean that the children go to bed later than planned; by the time they’re all tucked in, I’m usually too tired to work on anything. Fortunately, we still have our weekly Daddy’s Night.

 It all started a couple of years ago, and it’s one of my favorite traditions. On a Friday or Saturday evening, we rent a movie or borrow one from the library. Then, when Dad arrives home from work, I disappear — to the bedroom, the study, or the store – wherever I need to go to do what I need to do.

 While I’m gone, Daddy steps in and takes over. He makes supper, usually something simple, such as frozen pizzas he can top with extra cheese and pepperoni. The children enjoy creating the pizzas with him – they’ve come up with some creative topping designs.  One of the children spreads out a towel on the floor of the family room to use as a tablecloth, and the pizza is served as the movie begins. Dad usually provides a special dessert, too– ice cream or honey buns or popcorn.     

 Sometimes Daddy decides to take the children out instead — maybe for supper and an extra-thick milk shake. But whatever they do, I can relax and enjoy the bit of free time, knowing that all are well-fed, cared for, and making special memories with their dad.

Seeing It Through

My second child, now ten, has been so easy to raise – she’s compliant, eager to please, and easy-going. When she has a new interest, she pursues it with a passion. Until this past fall, we had very little to work on regarding character issues. That’s when we discovered she has difficulty seeing things through.

It actually began about two years ago, when she decided she wanted a horse. She was so certain that she even chose to stop taking ballet lessons so the money could be saved for a horse. But purchasing a horse and all we needed to care for it was a big step for us, and we needed to more to be financially ready. In the meantime, I said, how about getting a puppy? We used to have two dogs, but we had to give one away when it kept killing our chickens. Another dog would be fine.

Because it would be a while before we could get a horse, she agreed, putting all her energies into the project. She read about all the different breeds and saved her money for dog toys and treats. When someone offered to give her a dachshund they couldn’t keep, she was thrilled…for about a two weeks.

As the novelty of dog ownership wore off, my daughter began looking again towards a horse. I might have thought that a dog just wasn’t a good choice, except that over the years she’s also tried a kitten, a bird, a hamster, and a guinea pig, all of which she eventually gave up to her siblings. There was a bigger issue here than just finding the right pet.

The struggle with commitment was apparent in her music studies as well. She took piano for a while, but quit as soon as I would let her. She began flute lessons last fall, and now she already wants to quit taking those. What would happen if we bought a horse?

I’m not worried about it anymore. This is an area where she struggles, but it’s also an area that she can improve. We’ve talked about it and decided she can learn to stick with something. She can learn to follow a commitment through to the end, even if things become difficult or uncomfortable. She might whine and beg, but I’ve determined that I won’t let her quit. We see the problem, and we have the time to work on it together. And we’re still saving for that horse.

No More Chicks in the Bathtub

Well, my husband has made it official: he’s tired of raising chicks in the bathtub. Actually, I’ve been the one raising them in bathtub, and he patiently (and sometimes not so patiently) has gone along with the idea. Although it’s been an annual spring event for the past four years, truth be told, I think we’re all ready to see the tradition go.

However, as far as raising chicks go, the bathtub served as a great temporary home until they were large enough to keep outside. We used the bathtub in our second bathroom (yes, we still showered in the other one!), which was extra deep and didn’t have a shower fixture anyway. I spread newspaper in the bottom, purchased a small chick waterer, and set up a clamp light with a regular bulb above them. They had natural lighting from the window over the tub, and we could shut the door to keep the cats out. The children could go in any time and pick them up and hold them. It was perfect!

Well, it was mostly perfect. These chicks were from the feed store, so they didn’t have a mother to keep them warm. Thus, the light served as their heat source, and it had to be left on all the time when they were very small. They couldn’t follow a regular day and night pattern and were often cheeping while everyone was trying to sleep. And, as they got bigger and started to fly, it became harder to keep them in the tub and the mess contained. One day, when my husband opened the door to the bathroom, about ten chicks flew from the edge of the bathtub right at him. He said it reminded him Alfred Hitchcock’s movie The Birds….

I love to watch chicks grow, and I would probably give it one more try this spring, except that the kids’ interest seemed to wane quite a bit last year. Towards the end of the chicks’ house stay, I was the only one taking any interest in the little birds and their well-being. We still have hens outside that will lay, set, and have new broods of their own, so we won’t be totally chick-less. We’ll just sleep a little better at night.